European consumer groups criticise Google location data collection




European consumer groups on Tuesday criticised Google for breaching personal data protection rules, citing how the location of smartphone users was continuously tracked.

Google collected location data of people, who use Google’s services or accounts on their smartphones and features like “location history’’ and “web & app activity,’’ according to the Brussels-based European Consumer Organisation.

This was in breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that entered into force in May, the groups
said, saying they planned to file complaints with national data protection authorities.

The information was used for services such as targeted advertising.

Location data can be sensitive as it can also reveal personal information, ranging from religious beliefs to health
conditions or sexual orientation, the groups said.

The findings were highlighted in a report by the Norwegian Consumer Council, one of the European consumer
groups planning a complaint.

The consumer groups criticised Google for not being open about the features or how consumers can choose
not to share their location data.

“Thanks to the GDPR, users should be in control of their personal data. Google’s deceptive practices are in breach
of the spirit and the letter of this regulation,” Monique Goyens, Head of the European Consumer Organisation said
in a statement.

Google Norway spokeswoman, Helle Skjervold, said in a written statement to public broadcaster NRK that
Google was “constantly working to improve our settings, and we will carefully read this report to see if there are
things we can change.’’

Complaints were due in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and
Sweden.(dpa/NAN)